News / Middle East

Iraq says Syria War Spillover Hinders Oilfields, Pipelines

FILE - Iraqi workers at the Rumaila oil refinery, near Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.
FILE - Iraqi workers at the Rumaila oil refinery, near Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.
Reuters
— Spillover attacks from the civil war in Syria have hindered development of Iraq's gas and oil reserves and a major pipeline to the Mediterranean has been blown up dozens of times, Iraq's top energy official said on Tuesday.
 
Violence in Iraq climbed back to its highest level in five years in 2013, with nearly 9,000 people killed, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations.
 
“The ongoing conflict in Syria has resulted in an increasing number of terrorists using vast desert areas between Syria and Iraq to establish bases from which they have carried out attacks against the civilian population and economic targets and infrastructure,” Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani said.
 
“Attacking the energy sector has been among their top priorities to deprive the country of its main revenue source,” he said at an energy conference in London.
 
“The attacks have been focussed on oil export pipelines, power generation and transmission lines.”
 
The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is also fighting in neighboring Syria, has taken control of the Iraqi city of Falluja west of Baghdad with the help of armed tribesmen.
 
Unrest is not limited to central areas near Baghdad but is also spreading to the north where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Kurds fled the Syrian war to neighboring Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan and Turkey.
 
“The Iraqi Turkish pipeline was blown up 54 times during 2013, averaging once a week yet we managed to repair and use that pipeline and pump on average 250,000 barrels per day last year,” Shahristani said.
 
He said operations at much larger oilfields in Iraq's south, which provide the bulk of oil exports from the Gulf, remained unaffected.
 
However, he said security concerns hindered development of reserves in the western region and its Qayara and Najmah oilfields, operated by Angolan state oil company Sonangol in the al-Qaeda heartland of Nineveh province in the country's northwest.
 
Sonangol is not considering an exit from Iraq, he said at a later briefing for journalists.
 
OPEC quota
 
Despite the violence, Iraq is gearing up for one of the biggest oil output jumps in its history with international companies nearing completion of major projects which so far have not been affected by unrest.
 
Iraq will see its oil production capacity rise by more than 50 percent in 2015 to 4.7 million barrels per day (bpd) compared with more than 3 million at the moment, Shahristani said.
 
The long-term plan is to raise output to 9 million bpd by 2020 and sustain that rate over 20 years, he said.
 
Shahristani said that when output reached 4 million to 5 million bpd, discussions would begin over the country's production quota within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
 
Shahristani said Iraq was preparing a proposal to recalculate the supply allocations for all OPEC's members.
 
“For the time being, we are working on the assumption there will be room for Iraqi crude without having to squeeze anybody out of the market in a serious way,” he said.
 
Once sanctions are lifted on Iran and its production is fully restored, Shahristani said talks on allocations could be sped up.
 
“When Iran comes back to the market - that will be very reassuring for the world,” he said, while adding that he did not expect Tehran's full return this year.
 
Waiting for response from Kurdistan
 
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has angered Baghdad by signing deals with major and mid-sized energy companies in the hope of producing as much as 1 million barrels per day.
 
Kurdistan has built a pipeline to Turkey, but Baghdad insists it has the sole right to export oil from all parts of Iraq, including Kurdistan.
 
“Any oil that leaves Iraq without the permission of [state company] SOMO is illegal and Iraq will have to take actions to protect its oil wealth,” Shahristani said.
 
“We have informed Turkey and the KRG that we cannot allow this to continue,” he said. “We are waiting for a response to our latest proposal”.
 
Shahristani said Baghdad had proposed that the KRG pay the oil companies operating in the region out of its 17 percent share of the national budget, accept that SOMO would market the crude and deposit all revenue into the Development Fund of Iraq, based in New York.
 
The Kurds, however are still insisting on marketing their own oil and say the proposal does not give them enough money to pay the operators.
 
Shahristani said the KRG would respond shortly.
 
He emphasized that Baghdad was ready to act if oil exports continued from Kurdistan without a deal.
 
“We have a very measured action plan vis-a-vis all involved parties - with Turkey, the buyers of that crude - because internationally that's Iraqi crude - and, of course, we'll have to take measures against the KRG.”
 
“Anyone who buys that crude will face legal action from Iraq,” he said, without giving details of how would be done.
 
“The risk for Turkey is very high and very serious,” he said.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid